Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Turn Back Around

Some cops have gotten the wrong message, and are sending the wrong message. Turning your back on Mayor de Blasio is childish and negative, and rather than helping your cause, it does the opposite. Every time a cop turns his back on the mayor, the police force gets politicized. 

“It's not political, it's personal”? No, it's personal when someone gets killed, for them and their loved ones. It was personal when Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed. It was also personal for Eric Garner's loved ones. It's okay for the communities to be torn up about it and to demand justice. In the case of Officers Ramos and Liu, innocent policemen just doing their job, the assailant was a crazy person who blew his brains out. In the case of Eric Garner, an innocent, unarmed man, the assailant was a policeman, and there was no trial. That's a problem. 

Did rhetoric drive Ismaaiyl Brinsley to kill the cops? No. There is a great wave of antipathy toward the police, especially in the black community, which no doubt fed this troubled man's motivation. That anger came from an unnecessary death of a man by chokehold, not anything anybody said. 

De Blasio didn't back you the way you want? Do you think it was a mistake for him to try to find commonality and empathy during a time of great outrage? The mayor has a black son. Was he not supposed to talk about this? I think it was an excellent time to connect with a furious New York. If he'd been Rudy Guiliani (who backs de Blasio in this dispute, although he also blames Obama for the police officer's deaths, so fuck him) and gone all "Hey, police gotta do what police gotta do," there would have been a riot. People would have torn shit up.

Did you notice something about the protests over Eric Garner's death? People did not tear shit up. Kudos to the mayor for that, and kudos to Reverend Al Sharpton and the other protest organizers as well. Thank you, New Yorkers, for maintaining a sense of community, even when you think your community provides you no justice. The cops who turned their backs on their mayor spurn that community.

When two cops were killed, it was an ugly climax to a horrible story. Universal condemnation of the crime and support for the police poured forth from all quarters. A black person must see this and wonder why the major news networks didn't and don't show the same support for them when they're down. An innocent man is killed, there's no follow-up, and the response is "Be a better father" and "Stop getting pregnant." Does the black community have problems? No doubt. Do those problems have anything to do with Eric Garner's death? Hell no. Is a policeman’s death more important than a black man's death? Only in the media.

Still, when those cops were killed, people came together. Shrines were built on the street and online. The mayor (with his "friend" Andrew Cuomo jumping on his lines earlier that morning) called for a "pause" in protests, aka a stop, forever, at least until the next time someone gets killed for no reason. The only good that could have come of this senseless killing would have been to let the community come together. 

Instead, Patrolman's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch saw it as a time to take potshots at de Blasio. He described blood on the hands that "starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor." I'm sorry, saying you've had to coach your son on how to interact with cops is not tantamount to calling for police executions. Also, can we all clean up our metaphors? Are there handprints all up the steps? Is de Blasio a circus tumbler, walking on his Macbethianly blood-soaked hands all over city hall?

When cops pile on to that nonsense by turning their backs, they send a message not of unity but of political divisiveness. They do this not just at a time of national mourning, when people are supposed to come together, but also at a time of black pain. Eric Garner is still dead, at the hand of cops. This is no time to get self-righteous. It's not your turn at the outrage game. Every time you turn your back, you say that Eric Garner's death, and the other deaths of black men and children at the hand of police, is not as important as these cops’ deaths. What's more, you're also saying that the deaths of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu aren't as important as the fact that you're mad at the mayor. That you can't maintain decorum at a funeral. 

It's shameful and it's ridiculous. You're public servants, with a job to do and a relationship with the public that still needs to be greatly improved. Turn back around.

--Dan Kilian

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